On Monday, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf hosted marijuana supporters at his residence for what he described as a chance to get the facts out. This comes after State Representative Matt Baker stated that he will not advance Senate Bill 3 because cannabis is not approved by the FDA.
Senate Bill 3 would allow people who suffer from a number of conditions and have a doctor’s recommendation access to medical marijuana. The bill would allow people who suffer from cancer, epilepsy, PTSD, and multiple sclerosis access to medical marijuana.
For over an hour, Governor Wolf listened to two doctors, a lawyer, the mother of a child with epilepsy and a man with a pain disorder make a case for allowing doctors to provide medical marijuana as a form of treatment.
“We ought to let doctors prescribe the medications that they think their patients need,” the governor said afterward. “I don’t think that’s a really unusual thing to ask of our legislators. This passed overwhelmingly in the Senate. I think it would probably pass overwhelmingly in the House, if we can convince the right people to do the right thing.”
Representative Baker abuses his power
The bill has been assigned to the House Health Committee chaired by Representative Baker. Last year, a similar bill died in the Pennsylvania House after being approved by the Senate. Representative Baker recently said that he has no intention to allow his committee to take up the Senate’s bill, or any bill to legalize medical marijuana.
Representative Baker has stated that he will not advance Senate Bill 3 because cannabis is not approved by the FDA, however, Baker has accepted campaign contributions from multiple pharmaceutical companies who have paid over $1 billion to settle charges for having marketed drugs for uses not approved by the FDA.
Representative Baker’s public campaign finance records show significant contributions from pharmaceutical companies that manufacture drugs that treat many of the conditions outlined in Senate Bill 3, and would thus profit from the continued prohibition of medical marijuana. Representative Baker received several notable individual contributions from pharmaceutical manufacturers, pharmacies and drug wholesalers, totaling over $37,000.
- In 1999, Hoffmann-La Roche paid $500 million in criminal fines after pleading guilty to participation in a worldwide conspiracy to raise and fix prices on vitamins sold in the United States and other countries.
- In 2006, Medco Health Solutions was fined $155 million for accepting kickbacks from pharmaceutical manufacturers to favor their drugs, and paid kickbacks to health plans to obtain business.
- In 2010, AstraZeneca paid $520 million to settle allegations that they illegally marketed the anti-psychotic drug Seroquel for uses not approved as safe and effective by the FDA.
- In 2011, Abbott Laboratories agreed to pay at least $1.3 billion for illegally marketing its Depakote epilepsy drug to the U.S. government and 24 states. In 2011, the company pleaded guilty and paid a $500 million fine and $198.5 million forfeiture for illegal marketing. That punishment was due the company’s unlawful promotion of Depakote for uses not approved as safe and effective by the FDA. The FDA approved Depakote for epileptic seizures, bipolar mania and the prevention of migraines. Abbot Laboratories, however, also marketed the drug for schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and PTSD.
- In 2014, Value Drug paid $4 million to resolve allegations that it violated the Controlled Substances Act by failing to report suspicious orders of oxycodone to six pharmacies in Maryland and Pennsylvania.
- AbbVie, Inc., was another contributor to Baker’s campaign. The company markets Marinol, a prescription pill that is made of synthetic THC and is used to help stimulate the appetite of AIDS patients. Marinol is the only US FDA-approved synthetic cannabinoid.
- CVS and Rite Aid also are contributors to Baker’s campaign, neither would be permitted to distribute medical marijuana under Senate Bill 3.
The reality is that state-level legislators are dependent on contribution s to finance costly reelections and as such the interests of corporate contributions will many times outweigh the rationale for legislation that is otherwise in the public’s interest
This is a reality that needs to change! The only way to change this reality is by going out to vote and electing smarter policy makers who will enact smarter policies. Representatives like Matt Baker are the epitome of what is wrong with America today!